Aldermen will be asked to look at an ordinance that would lighten the load of the planning and zoning (P&Z) commission and ease the review process for some developments and building projects.

Under a code amendment that was crafted by former zoning officer Shawn Seymour, but tabled until a new zoning officer was in place, some projects could be approved administratively.

City Administrator Steve Roth told commissioners July 23 that it’s time to move forward on the proposed bill.

If approved, the zoning officer will be authorized to complete a site plan review and approve the plan without a public hearing, when projects meet all building and zoning codes and no variances are sought.

Commissioner Mike Bates questioned what would happen if variances to codes were sought in the proposed project.

“What happens if, like tonight, if it is reviewed and the administrator has no ability to waive sidewalks. How does that work?” Bates asked.

Roth said he does not envision the zoning officer or anyone in an administrative review granting a variance of any kind. If any variance is sought, the review would be referred to P&Z and eventually the board of aldermen.

“Then the ordinance needs to say that,” Bates said.

Roth said eventually he would like to see tighter regulations that spell out exactly what is required and permitted in every zoning district.

“If a development meets the code, the site review can be done administratively,” he said.

Bates said he could not recall a recent project where the developer did not ask for a single variance.

“Most everyone will ask for something,” he said. “So what is the recourse, the board of aldermen or board of adjustment?”

Roth said he thought the ordinance should have something that says how variances would be handled.

“Not everything has to come here (to P&Z),” he said. “But we need to put language in here that staff has the option when it comes up.”

Bates made a motion that the commission recommend approval of an amended bill that includes the language of what happens when any applicant seeks relief from city codes.

The board of aldermen will consider the amended bill at its meeting Aug. 6.